(Washington, DC) – The Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition today called on the United States to redouble its efforts to increase pressure on the Syrian regime through its allies and through leadership in the UN Security Council.  According to human rights activists at least 2,000 Syrians have been killed in the crackdown and more than 3,000 have been ‘disappeared.’ Another 12,000 people remain in regime custody and subject to widespread torture.

Hon. Tom Andrews, President of Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition issued the following statement:

“The United States made a strong, if delayed, move toward ending violence against civilians in Syria when it implemented new oil sanctions against the regime and called for President Assad to step down. But the Assad regime’s extreme brutality, perpetrated as part of a well-documented campaign of repression, demands greater leadership by the United States to drive a strong international response.

“U.S. oil sanctions alone will have limited impact since most major oil companies operating in Syria are European firms.  If Syria is to experience a real economic cost to its atrocious actions, the United States must pressure European Union allies to follow its lead and sanction Syria’s oil sector.

“The United States should also press its colleagues on the UN Security Council to pass a strong resolution that not only condemns the violence in Syria, but also refers the situation to the International Criminal Court for an investigation of possible crimes against humanity, and imposes targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on perpetrators of violence in Syria.”

“The United States and the international community have a responsibility to protect civilians and must take action in order to prevent the Assad regime from committing further atrocities against the Syrian people.”

Note to editors:Conflict Risk Network, a GI-NET/SDC project that comprises a network of institutional investors, has held dialogues with oil companies urging them to halt operations in Syria and condemn the violence, and has found that many companies are waiting to take their cues from their governments. For more information, see CRN press release.

Background: Since mid-March, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has violently suppressed pro-reform demonstrations across the country.  Regime security forces have deployed heavy weapons in major cities across Syria, including Deraa, Hama, Homs, and Latakia.  Elsewhere in Syria, security forces have repeatedly used deadly force to suppress demonstrations.

Due to a widespread information blackout, information from the Syria is difficult to confirm, but the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has detailed an increasingly brutal repression at the hands of the regime and has suggested its actions likely constitute crimes against humanity.

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The Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network merged on November 1, 2010 to create a more powerful voice dedicated to preventing and stopping large-scale, deliberate atrocities against civilians. The organization remains committed to its work to end the crisis in Darfur and bring peace to all of Sudan as well as to end violence in other areas of mass atrocities such as Congo and Burma.  The merger creates the world’s largest anti-genocide organization, with a membership base of hundreds of thousands of committed activists globally, an unparalleled nationwide student movement, more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights partner organizations, and a network of institutional investors collectively representing more than $2 trillion in assets under management.

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